For a vast majority of people Christmas poinsettias are a disposable commodity. There are a few of us however, who adopt them as part of our permanent plant collection.
A while back, for several years in a row, I kept one particularly bright red poinsettia that eventually grew to almost four feet tall. You can imagine it was pretty impressive at Christmas time while in full bloom. Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of it to share with you. The computer I was using at the time crashed and took all of my plant photos with it. I learned a hard lesson that day.
To keep your poinsettia going for as long as possible, keep a couple of things in mind.
Most poinsettias die from over-watering and that is related to growing conditions. Your home probably has a lower quality of sunlight than the greenhouse from which it came, so your plant will be less actively growing and therefore need less water. So, let the soil dry out some before watering. Then water the plant thoroughly until water flows out of the bottom of the pot.
Most poinsettias come with a waterproof foil or plastic wrapper to keep water from leaking onto furniture. After watering, dump out any water that remains in the wrapper. It is this extra water held in the foil that is the main reason poinsettias die prematurely. Poinsettias standing in water develop waterlogged roots. Eventually the roots begin to rot and the plant rapidly declines.
Don’t worry about fertilizing your plant, it won’t really need much until spring. A half-strength dose of water soluble houseplant fertilizer once in a while should be more than adequate until growth resumes in the spring.
Also, bear in mind that poinsettias weren’t meant to last too much longer than the Christmas season. They were bred for color, not hardiness. On the other hand, I’ve seen some poinsettias growing under abysmal growing conditions that survived until spring when the owners set them out in the sunlight to grow again.
At the very least, enjoy your poinsettia as long as possible this winter as a reminder of wonderful Christmas memories.